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Full text of "State of the Union. Speech of Hon. James H. Thomas, of Tennessee, in the House of Representatives, January 17, 1861"

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STATE OF THE UNION. 



SPEECH 

OF 

HON. JAMES H. THOMAS, OF TENNESSEE 



) 



IN THE HOUSE OF EEPRESENTATIVES, JANUARY 17, 1861. 



The House being in the Committee of tlie Wliole on the 
State of the Union — 

Mr. THOMAS said: 

Mr. Chairman: The object of our discussion 
in the House should be to promote the general 
welfare of the country. To effect that object, a 
harmonious feeling should predominate, if possi- 
ble; but I must say that the character of the debate 
which has preceded has not been to my taste. 
Yet, sir, we must conform ourselves to the cir- 
cumstances by which we are surrounded; and, 
with a view of discharging my duty, I desire to 
submit some remarks to the consideration of the 
committee, upon the subject which now so seri- 
ously engrosses public attention. 

This question of slavery has ever been trouble- 
some to this country. Yet our fathers were en- 
abled to dispose of it, and to disposeof it in such 
a way as to secure, not only our liberties, but the 
establishment of a Government which has led to 
a happiness and prosperity of our people unex- 
ampled in the history of the human family. When 
the Declaration of Independence was framed, 
every State of this Union wasaslaveholdingSlate. 
They went through that war, and this trouble- 
some question troubled not the council, the camp, 
or the battle-field. We conducted that war to a 
successful termination , and to the establishmen t of 
our independence. In process of time, when our 
convention assembled to establish a constitution, 
we had twelve slave States and but one free Slate. 
There was then in the northern mind a hostility 
to slavery. 

We frequently hear from the other side of this 
Chamber, the position taken that they want to 
bring back this Government to the principles of 
its fathers. It would be well for those gentlemen 
who desire to effect that object, to look to the 
spirit which actuated those wise and patriotic 
fathers of ours while assembled in convention. 
What do we find them doing then? Why, sir, 
the slave trade was then in existence, and was 
tolerated by many of the States of this Union , and 
some southern States were averse to its abolition. 
We find that when the first rough draft of the 
Constitution was submitted for discussion , it gave 
Congress the power to abolish the slave trade any 
time after 1800. A proposition was then made 



that that trade should be extended to 1808. Ma- 
ryland and Virginia voted against that extension. 
A distinguished member of that convention from 
Connecticut (Roger Sherman) said that the south- 
ern States were essential for their welfare, and. 
that they would rather tolerate the slave trade 
than part with two Slates — Georgia and South 
Carolina; and on a vote upon the proposition to 
extend the slave trade eight years. New Hamp- 
shire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut voted, to 
give that extension, and, by their votes, the prop- 
osition was carried, and the slave trade extended 
eight years beyond the time to which some of the 
slave States contended it should be limited. And 
now what do we see upon this occasion .' Not a 
single member from either of those three States will 
tolerate a southern State in removing ov>e single 
one of those slaves, or their descendants, which 
were imported during those eight y^ars,. into 
any one of our Territories. But we pass on. We 
find that those fathers accommodated this matter 
among themselves; and they established a Con- 
stitution which has eminently served' its purposes 
for nearly three quarters of a century. 

What is the history of the Government after- 
wards? Your Washington, your first and greatest 
President, approved and signed bills to appre- 
hend fugitive slaves, and to admit slave States 
into the Union. Your second President, John 
Adams, of Massachusetts, approved and signed 
a fugitive slave bill for the District of Columbia, 
and bills recognizing slavery in the southwestern 
Territory. Your Jefferson acquired the Terri- 
tory of Louisiana, with its slave properly, and he 
signed and approved a bill to regulate the coast 
slave trade, by which slayes were permitted to be 
taken from one section of the Union to another 
for sale. And, sir, every President^up to the pres- 
ent hour has approved and signe"^d bills in con- 
formity to the views which are contended for upon 
the part of the South; and it is only within the 
last few years thai this opposition to the institu- 
tion of the South has advanced to its pres(.'nt for- 
midable and threatening position. And why is it? 
It may be traced back to a morbid — pardon me, 
for I intend to say nothing intentionally offensive — 
but, in my judgment, it may be traced back to a 
morbid sensitiveness upon the part of the north- 



2 



ern mind upon this subject. This hostility to 
slavery at its origin attracted little attention at the 
North, and few gave countenance to it; but it 
gradually got into the school-houses, into the 
school-books, into the pulpit, and into all the va- 
rious modes of education, and into all the means 
used in the formation of the moral sentiments of 
the people. It has been continued; and the pres- 
ent generation have been brought up and edu- 
cated from the nursery in u feeling of hostility to 
this institution, which was thus tolerated by the 
fathers of the Revolution in every State of the 
Union. This system of education has gone on 
until a large majority of the people of the North 
have grown up to manhood under such influences. 
And what is the result? It has formed political 
associations, and a political party which now pro- 
poses to take control of the Government of the 
country, and to do it upon the one single, isolated 
ideaof hostility to southern institutions. In 185G, 
this party first assumed a prominent and threat- 
ening attitude toward the South. And what do 
we find them declaring upon that occasion ? When 
they formed the Republican party, in 1856, they 
formed it without regard to past political dilfer- 
ences and divisions. When they came to lay 
down their principles , they announced that as their 
cardinal doctrine. In that body we find men who 
had been Whigs, Democrats, and Americans; 
men who had belonged to all the political parties 
of the country; but all their past party predilec- 
tions were to be laid aside, and the new party, 
without regard to them, was to be formed. It 
was so formed, and their declaration was: 

" Resolved, TIkU ttio Constitution conlers upon Congress 
sovereign power over the Territories of tlie United States 
for their governnient, and in the exercise of that power, it 
is both tlie right and tile duty of Congress to prohibit in all 
tlie Territories the twin relics of barbarism — polygamy and 
slavery." 

In 1860 the same party again laid down their 
platform; which was as follows: 

" 8. That the normal condition /jf all the territory of the 
Cnlted States is that of freedom. That as our republican 
fathers, when they had abolished slavery in all our national 
territory, ordained that ' no person .should be deprived of 
life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,' it 
becomes our duty, by legislation, whenever such legisla- 
tion is necessary, to maintain this provision of the Consti- 
tution against all attempts to violate it; and we deny the 
authoirity of Congress, of a Territorial Legislature, or of any 
individuals, to give legal e.xistence to slavery in any Terri- 
tory of tlie United States." 

When that party, in 1860, in convention, came 
to look out for a representative of the principles 
which they intended to inaugurate in theGovern- 
ment; provided they succeeticd, it looked all over 
the country for such an individual. The two 
most prominent and eminent men who presented 
themselves for that nomination were Hon. Mr. 
Seward, of New York, and Mr. Lincoln, of the 
State of Illinois. Upon the first ballot Mr. Sew- 
ard received a large plurality of the votes. But 
he was not nominated; and Mr. Lincoln was 
finally unanimously nominated and elected by 
that party; and it is now openly declared to the 
country that the former gentleman, Mr. Seward, 
is to be the prime minister of Mr. Lincoln, the 
successful candidate of the Republican party for 
President. These gentlemen owe their elevation 



to office to their opposition to southern institu- 
I tions. They were selected and voted for, not for 
j personal predilections, but for their devotion to 

the doctrines which they wore known to have 

advocated, and for opinions they were known to 
j entertain. 
1 Now, I call the attention of the committee and 

of the country to what, in brief, these opinions 

wore. Mr. Seward declares: 

'• Slavery can be limited to its pres-ent bounds; it can be 
i!me|ior;Ui(l ; i! can be, and it must be abolished, and you 
and I can aiul must do it. The task is as simple and easy 
as Us consumnialion will be beneficent, and its rewards 
glowing. It only reipiires to follow this simple rule of ac- 
tion : to do everywhere and on every occasion what we 
can, and not to neglect or refuse to do what we can, at any 
time, because at tliat precise time, and on that particular 
occasion, we cannot do more. Circumstances determine 
possibiliiies." **«*.. Ivvtend a cordial 
welrome to the fugitive who lays his weary limbs at your 
door, and defend him as you would your paternal gods. 

" Correct your own error that slavery has any constitu- 
tional guarantees which may not be released, and ought not 
tobe relin(|uished."'  ^ * * "You will sooa 
bring the parties of the country into an effective aggression 
ujion slavery.'' 

I Again, he declares: 

: " What a commentary upon the history of man is the fact, 
that eighteen years after the death of John Quincy .•Vdams, 
the people havefortheirstandard-bearer Abraham Lincoln, 
confessing the obligations of the higher law, which the sage 
of Quiney proclaimed, and contending, for weal or woe, for 
life or death, in the irrepressible conflict between freedom 
and slavery. I desire only to say that we are in the last 
stage of the conflict, before the great triumphal inauguration 

' of this policy into the Government of the United Slates." 

1 Now, sir, Mr. Seward was the highest candi- 
date on the first ballot, and is to be the prime 
minister of the incoming Administration. We 
now come to the declaration of the candidate who 
: was ultimately nominated unanimously by that 
'convention. What does Mr. Lincoln declare .•' 
And it is such declarations as these that have 
given him his present high position in the coun- 
try . He says: 

i " What [ do say is, that no man is good enough to govern 
another man irilltout the other man's consent. \ say this is 
the leading |)rineiple, the sheet anchor of Jlmcrican Re- 
publicanism." 

Again, in Chicngo, on the 10th of July, 1858, 
he said: 

" r should like to know if, taking the old Declaration of 
Independence, which deelaros that all men are equal upon 
principle, and makir>g excepti(ms to it, where will it stop.' 
If one man says it docs not mean a negro, why not another 
say it does not mean somi! other man .' If that declaration 
is not the trntli, let us set the statute-book in which we find 
it, and tear it out. Who is so bold as to do it.^ If it is not 
I true, let us tear it out. [Cries of ' No !' 'Nol'] Let us 
• stick to it, then ; let us stand firmly by it, then." • ^ 
* * •' Let us discard all this (piibbling about this man 
and the other man — this race and that race and the other 
race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an 
inferior position— discarding the standard that we have left 
us. l,et us discard all these things, and unite as one people 
throughout this land until we shall once more stand up de- 
claring that all men are created equal." * * * .* 
" I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in 
your bosom until there shall no longer be a doubt that all 
men are created free and equal." 

Now, sir, here we have placed before us the 
ground on which this candidate was presented 
for election. And what is it.' It is not that he 
either favored or was opposed to a protective tariff; 
not that he was for one policy or the other, dis- 



connected with slavery. I ask you whether, if 
there had been no slaves in the United States, and 
if he had entertained similar opinions about sla- 
very in Cuba or Brazil, would such opinions ever 
have been considered when the nomination came 
to be made? No, sir, that nomination was made 
solely, mainly, and particularly, on the ground of 
hostility to slavery. It is one of his qpen declar- 
ations that he hates slavery as bad as any Aboli- 
tionist. It was that very hatred which gave him 
the confidence of the party that has elected him 
to power. 

Then, how do we stand ? Here is a party com- 
posed of men of the northern States alone, of 
whom not one single individual owns a slave; 
and probably not one twentieth of those who 
voted for Mr. Lincoln ever saw a slave. They 
have none of the evils or advantages of that in- 
stitution among them. And yet they chose Mr. 
Lincoln for his opinions in regard to an institu- 
tion with which they have no connection, and 
in which they have no practical interest. He 
was selected because of his hatred to slavery. In 
other words, he was selected, not for any partic- 
ular views of policy that he has in regard to 
northern institutions or northern interests, but 
because of the views which he entertains in re- 
gard to southern interests. He was elected, not 
to govern the North, but to govern the South; to 
govern a portion of the Union in which he has no 
party, and where there is no respectable portion 
of citizens who, for a moment, tolerate his elec- 
tion to office on such principles. So far as the 
South is concerned, we of the South have had 
no more to do in the election of Mr. Lincoln than 
we have had to do with the election of the Emperor 
of France. He is to us a foreign ruler. He is! 
elected by men who have no sympathy with us, 
who are hostile to our great interests. j 

I submit to the consideration of every candid 
mind, if any court on earth would appoint a; 
guardian over a property where the application ; 
was made for the sole purpose of destroying the! 
estate; where the applicant was hostile to the in-! 
terestof which he desired to have the control, and, 
only sought the trust for its destruction; is there; 
a court on earth, claiming to know what equity 
and justice is, who would for a moment think of 
appointing him? And yet you are determined to j 
place the guardianship of the rights of the South ! 
on the slavery question, in the handsof men who' 
come here declaring their hostility to slavery, and 
claiming the right to take charge of that institu-1 
tion to which they are hostile, and on the destruc- 
tion of which they are determined. I submit to 
the consideration of this committee, and of the ' 
country, whether it is an American principle, that 
the party who has no interest in the subject-mat- 
ter should select a guardian for it, and choose him 
from among those hostile to it? 

But it may be said that our Government is one 
■of majorities. True: in one sense it is a Govern- 
ment of majorities. But Mr. Lincoln has only a 
bare majority of the electoral vote; and when you 
come to examine the record of the great popular 
voice of the people of the United States, you will 
find that he is nearly a million in the minority. 
Thus, by nearly a million minority of votes, lias 



Mr. Lincoln been elected to the office of President 
of the United States. 

Again, sir; this idea of majorities governing 
ought to be limited to the people who are inter- 
ested in the subject. The people of Massachu- 
setts or the people of Virginia might well submit 
a subject to the will of their respective States, and 
be governed by the majority; but the principle 
does not hold good where the question is sub- 
mitted to those who have no interest whatever 
in it. 

Upon the subject of slavery, or any local in- 
terest of the South, I maintain that if majorities 
in the North, or if every man in the North, were 
in favor of hostile legislation, it would be anti- 
American, and contrary to all the principles of our 
Government for them to assume to govern such 
local institution , and especially to govern it in such 
a way as to bring about its destruction. Why is 
it that the northern people have felt it incumbent 
on them to join in a crusade against this institu- 
tion ? We are often told that the slave power has 
had the control of the Government; but I main- 
tain that the Government has not been controlled 
with a view to promote slavery, or in opposition 
to slavery; and that is the view in which the 
South has ever maintained the Government should 
be controlled. But slavery is a living, existing 
interest in the country, and should share the com- 
mon weal or common woe of the country, like 
other great interests. 

I submit to the committee and to the country, 
what reason can be given, from a review of his- 
tory, for sobitter a contest against this institution 
of the South ? Has slavery made such rapid 
strides since the foundation of this Government as 
to alarm those philanthropists, if philanthropists 
they be? At the time of the treaty of peace in 
1783, the States now called southern owned ter- 
ritory to the extent of 638,016 square miles, and 
the northern States 169,662; or the South owned 
468,354 square miles more than the North. Vir- 
ginia ceded territory to the extent of 239,558 
square miles, and excluded slavery therefrom; 
thus giving the North 409,220, and reducing the 
South to 398,458 square miles. The South was 
then strong, and the North was weak. How has 
that generosity and magnanimity been requited? 
Flow is it now proposed to be requited by the 
northern States ? The very States of the North- 
west, of the territory thus generously ceded by 
the State of Virginia, are this day enlisted in the 
ranks of our adversaries; and a large majority of 
their Representatives on this floor are voting and 
acting to-day with the party that is at;;empting 
to deprive the old mother Commonwealth, the 
mother of those States, of any right in the Terri- 
tories that have been subsequently acquired, al- 
though thoy were acquired by the joint blood and 
treasure of Virginia with all the States. 

But, sir, let us follow out that idea: By the Lou- 
isiana purchase, we acquired 1,136,496 square 
miles. Of this the North has secured 977,602 
square miles, and the South 333,624 — the North 
acquiring 643,978 square miles more than the 
South. 

By the Florida purchase, the South acquired 
59,268; and by the annexation of Texas, 274,356; 



total by these last two acquisitions, 333,624 square i 
miles. 

By the Mexican treaty, the total acquisition is 
€65,45>6 square miles. Of this the North has Cal- 
ifornia, contninini^ 188,981 square miles, leaving 
476,505 square miles in New Mexico and Utah 
to be settled. And the present efibrt of your party 
is to exclude the South from the whole of this; ! 
•while the South only asks equality in it. And, 
sir, I may remark, m relation to that territory, 
that it is the most barren, bleak, mountainous, ' 
and unproductive territory that tiiis Government 
has ever actjuircd. The soil and climate of that 
territory are such that your own distinguished 
Daniel Webster declared that slavery could never 
go there; that the law of nature ]irohibited it; and 
that, to enact the Wilniot proviso in regard to it, : 
would be only to reenact the law of God. 

I will rt'fer again to the statistics that I have 
collected from the report of the Commissioner of j 
the Land Office: 

S<]uare miles. 

In 17S3 tin; South owned 638,016 

Virginia ceded '239,508 

Leaving Oie South but 398,458 

From the Louisiana purchase the ;^oulb ac- 
quired but 153,896 

Florida 59,-268 

Texas 274.356 



Present South 890,976 



Total increase of the South -JoajgSS 



In 1783, tlic Xortli liad 169.660 

Virginia cession 'i'JSIjSOS 

Louisiana purcliase 977,602 

Mexican treaty Ie8,981 



1,575.803 



Total increase of the Nortli since 1783 1,406.141 



In seventy-six years the South has gained but 
252,962 square miles, and the North, in the same 

geriod, has gained 1,406,141 square miles. The 
outh has increased her limits alioul 33 per cent., 
while the North has extended near 1,000 per cent. 
In 1,217,160 square miles of the territory thus ac- 
quired by the North, slavery existed by law, but 
is now abolished. Of tlie small amount acquired 
by the South, it was all slave territory when 
acquired, and so remains. 

That is the history of the progress of the two 
sections. Where, then, is thei-e the slightest pre- 
text of our northern friends for one moment en- 
tertaining the belief that slavery is to be spread 
all over the country. This idea that the 8outh, 
or the Democratic party , or any party at the Sou th , 
are slavery propagandists, by and through the 
.Federal Government, is a mistake, and northern 
politicians have misled the public mind of the 
North when they have attempted to promulge 
such an idea. The only position taken by any 
party in the South is, that wc of the South are 
equals in this Union, and that when Territories 
are acquired our citizens have the right, under our 
Constitution, to go there, and that no power short 
of the people of the Territories themselves can at 
any time exclude them from this right. There is 
some division among us a.^ to when the people of 



a Territory should ai;t — whether they should do 
it while in a territorial capacity, or whether they 
should wait until they form a State constitution; 
but all agree that there is no power which can ex- 
clude the South from her rights in a Territory 
but th(> people who settle that Territory. We are 
in favor of th'' largest liberty to the people to go 
to the Tercitories that are acquired by the com- 
mon blood and the cotnmon treasure of all the 
States and of all the citizens of all the States, and 
to stand upon a perfect equality in relation to their 
rights in those Territories. 

What objection can the North have to that? 
It is not that slavery will go up North. Every 
man who knows the character of the northern 
peojile, knows that they look well to their own 
interests, and they have abolished slavery in the 
northern States; and in doing tiuit, they have 
shown by liieir example that thei'e is no fear that 
slavery will ever go where it is unprofitable. This 
being so, why is it that there is this hostility in 
the public mind at the North against this insti- 
tution of slavery.' Sir, they have got ingrafted 
on their minds an idea that slavery is sinful, 
and that this Government is responsible for the 
sin of slavery, if it be tolerated. Doubtless a large 
majority of the people of the North are devoted 
to tiie Constitution of this country, and are will- 
ing to give us our constitutional rights, if they 
were not misled upon this subject. In my hum- 
ble judgment they have been, whether intention- 
ally or not, grossly misled. They have been 
taught that the Constitution of the countrj' does 
not recognize the right of property in man, and 
that if slavery is permitted to go into any of the 
Territories it will make them accessory to this 
great sin of slavery. Why, sir, we must look to 
the circumstances that attended our Declaration of 
Independence, and the formation of this Consti- 
tution. The ships of the North and of the South 
were then engaged in the African slave trade. 
They were going to Africa, and tiicre buying or 
kindnapping negroes, and bringing them to the 
United States, and selling them to the citizens of 
the Union as slaves. A proposition was made to 
abolish that trade, or to give Congress the power 
to abolish it; but the North, the States of jVIassa- 
chusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, said 
that they wanted the trade extended, at least until 
1808; thus giving them twenty years more to bring 
this species of property to the United States, sell 
it, and pocket the profits of the sale. It was 
the idea entertained then, universally. Nobody 
thought of any thing else than that they were 
legally bought and sold as property. 

But, sir, when you came to organize the Mis- 
sissippi Territory, you put in your bill, that any 
man being the owner of a slave might take that 
slave into that Territory and there reside. And 
every Administration from that day to this, and 
every President of the United States, has recog- 
nized the same idea. Congress has again and 
again recognized it, and directed slaves to be paid 
for as property. Your treaties have recognized 
it. And, sir, not only that, but your courts have 
again and again recognized it. Your Government 
in all its branches, executive, legislative, and ju- 
dicial, have been treating slaves as property up to 



this good hour. And now, when an individual, 
pursues his slave into the State of Ohio, if you 
please, and apprehends him, by what rig;ht does 
he apprehend him ? Why, under the right to the ' 
service and labor of the slave. That is technically 
the right under the language employed by the Con- 
stitution; but what does it mean ? It matters not 
whether the individual who has escaped owes ser- 
vice for a day, for a year, or for life; he is subject to 
be delivered up when a fugitive from his master. 
Upon what other ground has the master the right 
to reclaim his slave who has escaped into another 
State, unless it be a right conceded under the Con- 
stitution, that he has the sole and exclusive con- 
trol over the services of the slave to as full an 
extent as he has over any other species of prop- 
erty, real or personal, not inconsistent with the 
laws of humanity .' 

The gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Stantok,] the 
other day, contended before this House that the 
admission that slaves were property would in- 
volve us in interminable difficulties. Why.' He 
objected to the admission of the right; for the rea- 
son, among others, that, if a man in trandttt 
through a free State with his slave should die, and 
die indebted to the citizens of such free State, an 
administrator in such State could not inventory 
the slave as property, or subject him to the pay- 
ment of such indebtedness. Why, sir, if the gen- 
tleman from Ohio had reflected upon the result of 
that provision of the Constitution relating to fugi- 
tive slaves, according to his own construction of 
it, he would have seen that the same difficulty 
might occur. Suppose a slave escaping from Ken- 
tucky into Ohio is pursued and apprehended by 
his master, but before his return his master dies, 
owing debts in that State: the slave could not be 
sold there; a writ o( fieri facias could not reach 
liim; but he could be taken back to Kentucky, and 
there be sold in the marKet. Suppose the slave 
escapes, and is apprehended by his owner in a 
free State, where the master dies: surely his per- 
sonal representative — his heirs or administrators 
— would have the right to carry him liack, and 
apply the proceeds of his sale to the debts of his 
deceased owner. 

But again: the gentleman from Ohio says, sup- 
pose the master, while in transitu through a free 
State, kills his slave, or his slave kills him: what 
is then to be done.' Precisely the same difficulty 
would arise in case the owner of a fugitive slave, 
having apprehended him in a free State, should, 
while returning, in the exercise of his authority, 
kill, or be killed by the slave. The gentleman's 
State should provide for such a contingency; and 
if they have not legislated upon the subject, it is 
not my fault. 

And so in respect to alt the difficulties which 
our friends of the North find growing out of the 
recognition of the right of property in slaves. 
There are no difficulties which did not exist in 
the minds of our fathers who framed the Consti- 
tution, and which were not fully met by them in 
the instrument framed by them, with the intention 
of compromising and settling them upon princi- 
ples having respect to the rights of all the States 
of the Union. 

Now, sir, when we look at the history of this 



I country and see its progress; when we see the 
difficulties which have from time to time come up 
and been settled by the wisdom of our fathers, is 
j it not strange that our friends in the North should 
I unite in such numbers upon an issue that has so 
[ little in it, affecting not only their own welfare, 
i but the welfare of the whole country.' Why, sir, 
i if we are permitted to take our slaves into the 
common Territories of the country, it does not 
add a single one to the number; it does not bring 
another slave within the limits of the United 
States. It only authorizes the master to change 
his location; it does not bring him nearer to you. 
Most likely it will have the eflect of removing him 
further from those gentlemen from the North who 
represent that section upon this floor. But gen- 
tlemen tell us they want these Territories for free 
labor. Mr. Chairman, I submit that there is 
much in the conduct of this party at the North 
calculated to break up and forever destroy that 
feelingof friendship which once existed, and must 
I again exist before we can sustain a united Gov- 
ernment. The Territories of the Government are 
the common property of all the States. No man 
will say that the South has failed to contribute 
her share in their acquisition, whether it be in 
cash or blood. No man can say it. 

Then why should we not have a common right 
to that territory .' What are you gentlemen of the 
I North indicating by your policy in this House ? 
It is not to secure the territory for your ovv'n chil- 
dren. You do not expect to populate it by your 
own offspring; certainly not in the present day. 
You have, during the present session, passed a bill 
giving an inheritance in that territory not only to 
your children, but to the children of every man in 
I the world who chooses to go there, to the children 
even of the Hessian, who, for a price, fought 
I against our fathers in the war of the Revolution; 
while you refuse to permit the descendants of 
General Green, or of any of the heroes of the Rev- 
olution in the South, to go there and take their 
property with them. 

; Call you this fair dealing .' Is this loyalty to 
us or to the memories of the Revolution .' Is it 
that spirit that actuated the framers of the Con- 
stitution, when they, compromising all the diffi- 
j culties before them, framed the Governmentunder 
; which we have grown up and existed as a nation 
so long and so prosperously .' 

Sir, these difficulties are continually thrown in 

our way. A determined disposition is manifested 

I to take that territory from us, to circumscribe us 

I within our present limits; while they will permit 

j homesteads to be granted to the descendants of 

I our former enemies, and will populate it with men 

i who cannot even speak our language, and to whom 

they should be bound by no stronger ties of affec- 

' tion than they should be to the men of the South, 

who shared in all the dangers and hardships of 

its acquisition. 

I have no hostility to foreigners; but, sir, when 
I see the legislative bodies of my country legis- 
lating with a view to give them precedence over 
the descendants of the revolutionary sires of the 
South, I feel that it is time for us to speak out — 
to demand at least the rights of the people of the 
South. There can be nothing wrong in that. 



6 



We do not claim any exclusive right in any of 
the Territories. We only claim the same right 
in those Territories that are secured to the people 
ot" the North. We demand nothing more; we 
can submit, sir, to nothing less. We do not ask 
to exclude one of the northern people, or any 
species of property possessed by the northern 
people. But you propose to exclude us, unless 
we divest ourselves of our household servants — 
a property which is endeared to us from our ear- 
liest recollections, and for whicli we have higher 
regard than for any other species of our prop- 
erty. The relations which exist between the mas- 
ter and servant create a sympathy unlike that 
which you feel for your homestead and your farm 
horses and wagons. It is a kind of friendship. 
It is a devotion of fellow-feeling characteristic of 
that institution, which never has been, and which 
I fear never will be, justly appreciated by the 
North. They arc a part of us. They sympathize 
with us, and we sympathize with them. Our 
rights are their rights; and when we prosper, 
they prosper. If we can go to a country where 
we can do better than where we are, the slaves 
that go with us are bettered in an equal propor- 
tion with ourselves. Hence, sir, it is that we 
claim all the rights of equality in this Union. 

But, Mr. Chairman, the time has gone by for 
the discussion of this question at length. We 
have passed from theories and come to facts. Such 
has buen the character of the dealings of the North 
toward the South — all of which 1 have not the 
time, in the few minutes left me, to refer to — that 
the South feels her rights are no longer safe in 
this Government without some new guarantees 
for their protection . Under that feeling, four States 
have already seceded from the Union; and, sir, 
probably while I am addressing this committee, 
the fifth will take its leave of us. These are the 
facts that stare us in the face. Disunion has taken 
place. Many of the great minds of the South 
have taken the ground that the right of secession 
is a right over and above the Constitution — but a 
right recognized by the peculiar manner in which 
that instrument was framed. I have not the time 
on this occasion, nor do I think the great body of 
the South are going to take time to investigate the 
very nice and very able legal arguments made on 
this subject. We go back to first great principles. 
It is enough for the people of the South to look 
to the Declaration of Independence. We believe 

that- ,: 

" When a long train of abuses and iiJiurpations, pursuing 
invariably the same object, evinces a desiKii to rciiuce them 
under absolutu despotism, it is tlieir right, it is tlieir duty, 
to tlirow (ilfsucli qovi'rnnicnt, and to provide now guards 
lor their future salety." 

The ground is taken here, that we cannot and 
will not be permitted to secede peaceably from 
this Union. If the action in the Senate yester- 
day means anything, it means that. This thing 
of secession is not to be permitted. The Army 
and the Navy are to be employed against us. 
The money appropriated in the hill now before us 
— the Army appropriation bill — is to be used for 
the purpose of sending troops to the South, with 
a view to the coercion of seceding States, and the 
pinning of this Union once more together by the , 



bayonet of Federal troops. I will submit an ex- 
tract from the letter of acceptance of Hon. Ed- 
ward Everett, a distinguished citizen of Massa- 
chusetts. He is entitled to respect. His opinion, 
at least, will show the opinions and feelings of 
the party which supported him. He says: 

"The suggestion tliat the Union can be inai?itained by 
the numerical predominance and military prowess of one 
.section, exerted to coerce tlie other into submission, is, In 
my judgniciit, as self-contradiotory as it is dangerous. It 
conies loaded with llic ileatli-smrll from lields wet with 
brothers' blood. Iftlie vital principle of all republican gov- 
ernment ' is tlie consent of the governed,' nmcli more does 
a union of coequal sovereign States require, as its bases, the 
liarmony of its members and their voluntary cooperation in 
its organic functions." 

Mr. Chairman, the people of the South regard 
that as the true doctrine. They believe that this 
is a Government founded in the consent of the 
people governed; and that all efforts made to 
coerce a sovereign State will be deemed an attack 
upon the great body of the South. Whenever 
such eiforts are made, I venture to say — and with 
no desire to indulge in boasting; it is my solemn 
conviction — that every State from this to the Rio 
Grande will unite as a band of brothers, and as a 
band of brothers will resist to the last; resist any 
and every blow struck against a seceding State to 
compel her to remain in the Union. 

Mr. Chairman, we regard the Constitution of 
the United States as the casket in which our fore- 
fathers deposited the jewels of justice; of the in- 
surance of domestic tranquillity; of provision for 
the common defense; the promotion of the general 
welfare, and the security of the blessings of liberty 
to ourselves and our posterity. Those were the 
jewels deposited in the casket. When you rifle 
It of these treasures, do you suppose that eulogies 
upon the glorious Union will attach the people and 
the States of the South to it? No, sir; they will 
dash it from them as an unholy thing. It is the 
treasure that gives it value, and not that in which 
the treasure is contained. 

But I have heard the idea frequently thrown 
out that you do not mean to make war upon the 
seceding States; that all you mean to do is, to let 
them do without the United States courts and post 
offices. It is declared that this Government will 
let the seceding States do without the advantages 
of this Union, while they will be compelled to ))ay 
their share of the revenue. That is the sort of coer- 
cion which George III attempted to put in force 
 against the revolted American colonies. He made 
war upon them for no other purpose but to com- 

fel them to pay the tea tax and the stamp duty, 
s such a war consistent with the jirinciples of 
American freedom.' If so, then you can prose- 
cute your war for the purjiose of collecting the 
revenue, and yet use no coercion. Suppose the 
Constitution of the United States made it the 
especial duty of the Government to coerce every 
State that was not willingly subject to its control: 
what would you do? You would only enforce 
the law; the very thing, sir, you now claim that 
you will do, and yet you will not coerce. 

Mr. Chairman, let this thing be attended to; 
not that I invite it, but let it be attended to; or 
who can imagine the terrible consequences that 
must result? Is it not known that one, five, or fif- 



teen States cannot be conquered and held in sub- 
jection? It cannot be done; nor do I claim that 
we can conquer the North. What did it cost this 
Government to get fifteen hundred Seminole war- 
riors out of the everglades of Florida? We ex- 
pended more than thirty million dollars out of 
the public Treasury in that little war; and now, 
when you talk, of conquering States, the whole 
arithmetic fails in figures to count the cost that 
will follow tlie attempt. I submit this, not as a 
threat, but as the plain consequences of an act of 
this character. If such policy as this is to result 
in no good to any portion of the Union, but in 
interminable evil, I submit, why is it necessary 
or expedient? And let me say, here, that all that 
is said or done upon this subject of conquering, 
or using force, or coercion, but adds fuel to the 
flame through the whole South. If this Govern-  
ment had manifested a more peaceable disposition, ] 
and had, from the commencement of this excite- [ 
ment, proclaimed through Congress that no force 
would be used, I believe that not more than one j 
State would have been out of the Union at this 
time. We should have had more time for a set- 
tlement of these difliculties. 

The remedy, if remedy there be, is in concilia- 
tion. Read, if you please, your writers upon the 
subject of national law, and they universally con- 
cur in the idea that the true and proper mode of 
putting down civil war is to grant to the people 
what they ask. And what has the South asked 
which should not be granted? She has never 
come into the Congress of the United States and 
asked for the passage of a law favoring and estab- 
lishing slavery upon any portion of the continent. 
She has only asked that all the rights we have 
shall be protected by the Government. We do 
not get rights from this Government. We have 
them over and above the Government. The Gov- 
ernment does not create rights, but only protects 
them. Governments are, established to protect 
rights; and we only ask that Congress shall pass 
laws to protect rights which we already possess 
If thismatteristo be settled — and possibly ityet 
may be — it must be done by a concession. And : 
what do you yield ? What do our northern friends 
yield? Nothing; absolutely nothing. They will 
have the same rights in the Territories which 
we will have. The feeling all over the South is, 
" equality in the Union, or independence out of 
it." That is the watchword. That is the feeling 
of our people of all sections, so far as my inform- 
ation extends. 

My constituents have not been, nor have I 
been, for secession. We have hoped for safety 
in the Union; and have desired that all means to | 
effect that end shall be exhausted before a resort is ! 
had to disunion. But while we waited for your 
returning sense of justice towards us, disunion 
has overtaken us; four, and perhaps five, States 
have seceded; and the forts and arsenals, from 



North Carolina to the Rio Grande, are nearly all 
in possession of the seceding States. We can bo 
content with no adjustment that will not unite 
the South with us. The southern States have a 
common interest and a common destiny. 

You censure the southern States for their pre- 
cipitancy. Upon this subject we of the border 
slave States have more reason to complain than 
you. They and we have told you for years, in 
the most solemn manner, that wc could not sub- 
mit to your aggressions, and entreated you to for- 
bear; yet you have not heeded, but have insulted 
us and told us that it was with us mere boastful- 
ness. 

You complain that the seceding States have 
seized the forts and other public property. These 
forts were permitted to be erected in these States 
for their defense, and the arms that have been 
taken were placed there for the same purpose. 
The Federal Government has no right to use this 
property for any other purpose. And whenever 
the people who had granted the sites of the forts 
for their defense discovered that they were to be 
used for the opposite purpose — of an attack upon 
them — it was not only just, but wise, for them to 
see that they v/ere used for their defense, the le- 
gitimate purpose for which they were erected. 

You complain that Florida and other States were 
purchased and paid for, and that they cannot, 
therefore, secede. Gentlemen are surely for reviv- 
ing the doctrines of the dark ages of the common 
law, by which they would make the inhabitants of 
the purchased territory t-iZ/ains in gross; attached 
to the freehold, and bought and sold with it. Flor- 
ida cost $5,000,000. Every State of the old thirteen 
was purchased. They cost the blood of the Rev- 
olution — a price greatly above that paid for our 
subsequent acquisitions. In all the treaties ac- 
quiring territory, we have stipulated for their 
admission as States upon terms of equality with 
the original States. This fact at once answers 
this objection. The States, new and old, are equal 
in rights in every particular. 

You could have quieted the country, and re- 
stored peace and prosperity, at no sacrifice but 
the yielding of your prejudices. Wecannot, with- 
out ruin and dishonor. In the language of a dis- 
tinguished southerner: 

" We may for a generation enjoy comparative ease, 
gather np our feet in our beds, and die in peace; but our 
children will go forth beggared from the homes of their 
fathers. Fishermen will cast their nets where your proud 
commercial navy now rides at anchor, and dry them upon 
the shore now covered with your hales of merchandise. 
Sapped, circumvented, undermined, the institutions of 
your soil will be overthrown ; and witliin five and twenty 
years the history of St. Domingo will be the record of the 
South. If dead men's bones can tremble, ours will move 
under the muttered cursesof sons and daughters, denounc- 
ing the blindness and love of ease which have left them an 
inheritance of woe." 

This calamity we will avert; peaceably if we 
can, forcibly if we must. 



Printed at the office of the Congressional Globe. 



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